Friday, April 24, 2009

A little niceness to end the week

Living in New Haven is nothing if not surprising.

Certainly, New Haven is gritty. It's a city with crushing poverty and the threat of crime hangs over certain places. 

But it is also a shining place. I just finished going through Charlie Monagan's Connecticut Magazine and its 50 places to eat before you die. Of course, eating kosher, you have a sum total of one -- Claire's Corner Copia's Lithuanian coffee cake. 

But for those who don't have that restriction, New Haven offers much more than its share of wonderful gastronomical treats from haute cuisine at the Union League Cafe to the famous pizza on Wooster Street to the burgers at Louis Lunch. 

There are world-class museums, great theater experiences. Yes, it's hard to navigate the streets without running into a beggar, but unfortunately, that experience is pandemic, even in smaller or richer towns. There are homeless in Greenwich. Deal with it.

The people also are shiny. 

An experience: Westville Village is a triangle about three blocks to a side from the confluence of Whalley Avenue and Fountain Street to Harrison Street near the western end of New Haven. It has more than its share of traffic lights and traffic tends to get sluggish. 

Driving west one day last week, I witnessed a rear-end fender-bender. An older econobox rear-ended an SUV. The driver of the SUV motioned for the two to drive to the curb, out of the flow of traffic, to sort things out. 

It turns out that the driver of the econobox probably shouldn't have been driving it because instead of pulling over, he took a quick left into the triangle-shaped parking lot at the confluence of the two streets. It has a food shop there now but it used to be a lot of things, most recently a Dunkin' Donuts. 

In any case, the driver was looking to escape. I pulled into the parking lot after him, wrote down the license plate, and watched him take a dangerous left through traffic and speed off toward downtown New Haven. I also noticed the hood of the car had been damaged, presumably in this crash.

I then left the parking lot the way I'd entered, pulled to the curb where the SUV driver who'd been rear-ended still was talking to a witness. As I was talking to him, giving him the plate number of the car that hit him, two other cars pulled up, one with a couple and another with a family. They also had pursued the econobox until they got the plate number. 

The SUV driver said his car apparently suffered no damage, but he was glad to have the other guy's plate number, just in case.

I drove home buoyed by the knowledge that my neighbors were these kind of people. I'm sure this incident was repeated a million times a year in communities all over the country. I'm just glad it happened in mine.

Page 2

If this is Friday, then there must be another example of the newspaper business down by the bow and sinking fast. This one is from Tribune Co.

That privately held newspaper giant, bought about a year ago by real estate magnate Sam Zell, who now seems to realize that buying a newspaper, something about which he knows nothing, was a mistake

Now, his lawyers have gone into court to ask that the corporation can pay bonuses to his executives and severance pay to the ever-growing list of laid-off workers. In this area, Tribune owns the soon-to-be-merged Hartford Courant and Channel 61, as well as the New Haven Advocate. 

At least, it isn't paying bonuses to executives contingent on the number of people they fire, as the Journal-Register Co. is trying to to. 

I hear the next session for JRC in bankruptcy court is May 6. If there is anything of local interest, especially with Connecticut Attorney General Dick Blumenthal's objection to the bonus-for-layoff scheme, watch for it in the New Haven Independent. 

Page 3

For those in the New Haven Jewish community, there are a couple of events coming up in the next few days. On Saturday, April 25, a kiddish will be given at Cong. Bikur Cholim Sheveth Achim to mark the first anniversary of  Jerry Gross' death. 

Jerry's kiddish will be sponsored by his wife, Ruth, and his children Jason and Daniel Gross. 

If you want to join the congregation for services, that starts at 9 at the synagogue, 112 Marvel Road at West Elm in New Haven's Westville neighborhood. The kiddish, a post-services get together with good food, usually starts at about 11:30. 

For those who read that there would be a kiddish for Sidney Krauser, the longtime shamos of Bikur Cholim, there has been a change of plans. A memorial is being planned for the end of the 30-day period of mourning. Plans will be posted on the synagogue's Web site:

Sorry for any confusion. 

Page 4

Here it is Friday again. The weekend looks gorgeous, a great time to get outside. It's almost time to dig the garden, but this is April and it could still be wet. Yesterday, weatherman Geoff Fox was yammering about frost. I don't know what he was on about...I just checked the 10-day forecast there wasn't a low forecast below 46 degrees. 

In any case, have a great weekend and, for those in the Tribe, a great Shabbos.

Until next time...

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